(CNN Spanish) — On March 5, 2013, the death of the president of Venezuela, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, was announced. The president was considered a charismatic and controversial leader who polarized the country around his figure and his management.
Ten years after his death, followers and leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela will remember Chávez with various activities in public squares, forums on his life and work, and a civic-military act scheduled for Sunday at the Museum of the Bolivarian Revolution o Montaña Barracks, located in western Caracas, where his remains rest.
For many, his irreverence and style always allowed him to stand out for better or worse, but never to go under the table. These are 10 of the most outstanding moments in the life of one of the most crucial politicians in the republican history of Venezuela.
1. February 4, 1992: “For Now”
He appears for the first time on television after having tried to overthrow the then president Carlos Andrés Pérez. Once detained, he addressed the soldiers who accompanied him in that coup attempt and stated: “For now, the objectives that we set for ourselves have not been achieved in the capital city, that is, we here in Caracas have not been able to control power.” It was a key moment in his political career. Almost seven years later, on December 6, 1998, Chávez won the presidential election.
2. February 2, 1999: The seizure of power
Chávez raised his right hand and was sworn in as president of Venezuela on the 1961 Constitution, which he called “moribund”, and vowed to promote a Magna Carta “adequate to the new times”. That same day, in the first act of his government, the new president signed a decree to call a consultative referendum. That consultation was held on April 25 of that same year and asked the Venezuelans if they wanted to convene a National Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution. This new social contract was approved in the referendum on December 15, 1999. Years later, on January 10, 2007, when he was sworn in for the period 2007-2013, he said that he would give “his days and his nights and his entire life in the construction of Venezuelan socialism”.
3. April 2002: whistles, dismissals and coup
After a strike initiated by the senior management of the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, the country’s main company, Chávez decided to fire seven of its leaders in a memorable broadcast of his program Aló, Presidente, on April 7, 2002. While Their names were announced, the president blew a whistle, as if he were a soccer referee marking an offside. Four days later, after a gigantic demonstration that reached the vicinity of the Miraflores presidential palace, Chávez was overthrown for 48 hours. On April 14, at dawn, he returned to the Miraflores Palace.
4. September 2006: “Yesterday the devil was here”
One day after the president of the United States, George W. Bush spoke at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Hugo Chávez exercised his right to speak. Before beginning his speech, he said: “Yesterday the devil was here.” Immediately afterwards he crossed himself and added: “In this same place it still smells of sulfur.” He then explained that he called the President of the United States “devil.”
5. November 2007: “Why don’t you shut up?”
During the XVII Ibero-American Summit held in Chile, King Juan Carlos told President Chávez the well-remembered “why don’t you shut up?”, which had an impact on bilateral relations between Madrid and Caracas but also on the population, with a phrase that it was even printed on flannels. The incident occurred in response to Chávez’s criticism of the former president of the Spanish Government, José María Aznar. In the middle, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who held the position at that time, asked him to respect his predecessor.
6. December 2007: first loss in an election
After declaring the turn to socialism in his third inauguration, Chávez promoted a broad reform of the Constitution that he himself promoted, which proposed, among other things, the continuous re-election of the President of the Republic. But on December 3, 2007, the No option prevailed over the Yes with a minimal margin. The next day, when commenting on the results, the president used profanity to refer to the victory of the factors that opposed the project. In February 2009, however, the ruling party managed to prevail in a referendum that put to the vote an amendment to the Magna Carta that proposed continuous re-election for all popularly elected positions.
7. September 2008. Expulsion of the US ambassador, Patrick Duddy
At a rally held on Caracas’ main highway, President Chávez expelled the US ambassador amid profanity and vulgar expressions. It was one of the most notorious clashes in the tense relationship between the two countries. Since then, Washington has not had an ambassador in the Venezuelan capital. The bilateral relationship was also tense with Colombia and especially in the time of President Álvaro Uribe. Even on February 23, 2010 at a lunch offered to the heads of state attending the Rio Summit in Cancun, Chávez had a loud argument with his Colombian counterpart. Uribe accused Chávez of imposing an embargo on Colombian products, a version that Chávez denied. According to Colombian media, Uribe told Chávez “to be a man,” to which Chávez replied: “go to c….” In his opportunity, Chávez confirmed that version to CNN.
8. June 2011: Chávez announces that he has cancer
After a wave of rumors resulting from his absence from the public scene, Chávez gave a press conference from Havana to confirm that he had cancer in the pelvic region, which had first required an emergency intervention to avoid infection. , and then a second operation to remove a tumor.
9. October 2012. The last act of the campaign
Dressed in black and under heavy rain, Hugo Chávez went up to the stage set up on Avenida Bolívar in Caracas, the place where Chavismo holds its rallies, to offer his closing speech for his electoral campaign. Although he won the victory against the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, his state of health did not allow him to attend the inauguration in January 2013.
10. December 2012. Chávez appoints Maduro as his successor
In an act at the Miraflores Palace, Chávez designated then-Vice President Nicolás Maduro as his political successor. At the beginning of his speech, the president announced that he would travel to Havana to undergo another operation. It was then that he asked his followers that in the event that new elections had to be called, they would vote for Nicolás Maduro as a candidate for the presidency of Venezuela. Maduro was left in charge of the government and announced the death of the Venezuelan president on March 5, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.